<
>

Bruins (almost) ready to move

MIDDLETON, Mass. -- It still hurts the Boston Bruins. It's been almost two months since they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals, but the memory of watching their opponent celebrate on TD Garden ice after Game 6 remains painstakingly fresh for the Bruins.

Members of the organization, both past and present, participated in Shawn Thornton's "Putts & Punches for Parkinson's" charity golf tournament Monday at Ferncroft Country Club to benefit The Shawn Thornton Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association and the Boston Bruins Foundation.

Before they hit the links for an afternoon of golf, Thornton and teammates Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille spoke about the painful loss, the team's offseason changes and the expectations of the upcoming season.

"I definitely got some time to reflect on the overall picture and it's definitely a little bit disappointing in the result we have, but we can move on and make sure we learn from that mistake," Paille said.

Rask concurred.

"Right after, you just want to forget about it and not think about it," he said. "Then in the first few weeks you're trying not to think about hockey at all, but I still find myself thinking about it and how much it sucks. Everybody knows what the situation was with our guys being hurt and stuff. We definitely left everything out there, so there are no regrets or no feelings that we should have done something differently and I think that helps the healing process.

"You can always be better, right?" added Rask. "And looking at last year, I don't think we played our best hockey but we still somehow made it to the finals. A lot of things have to click. You have to play as a team and all kinds of stuff has to happen, but if you look at the roster I can't see a reason why we couldn't be better."

After the Bruins lost on June 24, general manager Peter Chiarelli quickly began to transform the team's roster by adding and subtracting. The GM first completed a trade that sent 21-year-old forward Tyler Seguin, along with veteran forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Ryan Button, to the Dallas Stars in exchange for forward Loui Eriksson and prospects Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser.

Chiarelli was a bit surprised when free-agent forward Nathan Horton decided to leave Boston and sign a seven-year deal worth $37 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets. So the GM signed future Hall of Fame forward Jarome Iginla. The Bruins also re-signed Rask and assistant captain Patrice Bergeron to long-term contracts. Rask received an eight-year deal worth $56 million, while Bergeron landed an eight-year contract worth $52 million. Also, veteran free-agent defenseman Andrew Ference signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

While Seguin had three subpar seasons in Boston after being drafted No. 2 overall in 2010, the additions of Eriksson and Iginla have many excited about their arrivals.

"From what I'm told, it should be a seamless transition with the guys we're bringing in," Thornton said. "With Loui Eriksson, both Axelsson brothers texted me and told me how great a guy he is and how much we're going to love him. I haven't played against him a whole ton because he [played in the Western Conference], but I've heard a lot of rumors [that] he may be the most underrated guy out there right now."

Eriksson, who turned 29 on July 17, is a complete two-way player and has scored 20 or more goals four times in the last five seasons.

"The emotions were a little bit bittersweet, if you're going to put it into a word," Paille said. "Going to miss the guys who have gone, but we have to look forward and realize who we got back in return. We'll build a relationship with the new guys and I think we're all looking forward to it."

Those changes could affect Boston's popular energy line of Paille, Gregory Campbell and Thornton.

While Iginla will likely play with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, Eriksson could be on the line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The third line could feature a few different combinations with the likes of Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg, Paille and Jordan Caron all in the mix.

No matter where he plays, Paille said he'll be ready as always.

"Yeah, definitely some big changes from last year," Paille said. "For myself, I don't want to change too much. I want to continue the trend I had last year and build off that. If an opportunity comes up where I'm able to take advantage of the situation where I could play that third-line spot, I definitely will, but I'm not quite sure what the circumstances are going to be at this point.

"I'm not really going to go with too many expectations. I'll go into training camp and see what the position will be. I definitely have no problem playing with Soupy and Thorty because we've done so well in the past."

Rask, Thornton and Paille agree that, on paper, the 2013-14 roster looks strong. "I don't think anybody will dispute that," Paille said. "We definitely want to get that chemistry going, especially early on with [new teammates], and we'll definitely try to progress as much as we can throughout training camp and build throughout the whole season."

Added Thornton: "I like where our team's at. On paper it looks great, but paper is one thing, we have to perform, still. I'm excited about the upcoming year."

On the defensive side, losing Ference will impact the Bruins but the organization is confident in the young core of defensemen that includes Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug.

"It was going to happen someday, right?" Rask said about the change on the team's blue line. "I think Bart and Kruger showed everybody they can play at this level and they can be really good weapons for us, so I don't think it'll be a huge adjustment. Obviously, we communicate and we talk with the defense all the time. We try to be as clear as possible with everything. I'm really looking forward to playing with those guys. They showed they're really good players and they can help us."